Hyde Park, London – It is the third day of my stay in this wonderful city. Eighteen years ago, I was almost sent here by my family for my secondary education. Back then my mother was adamant that I should remain in Malaysia so that I would get a religious upbringing. It was of her utmost fear that I would not grow within the Islamic values. Alhamdulillah, I believe that she had made the right decision. Thanks to her, I have turned out to be well and London was still engraved in my destiny’s list.
The weather is now going through a seasonal transition from winter to spring. The temperature plays around 1 to 10 degrees with rains on certain days. My cousin told me that it would be very cold for me but I find it bearable to my thin Asian skin. The coldest weather that I have ever encountered was a windy minus 10 at the Great Wall of China. It felt like being in a refrigerator with a full blasted fan blowing into my face. I remember when one of my friends was jumping up and down once she felt the chilly wind touch her pink cheeks. So compared to that condition, I suppose 5 degrees in the morning breeze is fine with me as rather than anything below zero.
As our entourage was driven from Heathrow to our hotel, my meticulous eyes were unable to identify the differences of buildings nor areas we were in. There were leaf barren trees everywhere by the highway. It seemed as if they were all the same species because unlike in Malaysia, we have trees from variegated sizes and heights. The buildings here were composed of almost the same dull colours of red brick, gray with a few whites. The city was laden with well maintained historical buildings aged of hundreds of years. The majestic architectures were distinctive with its English features but were not unfamiliar to us Malaysians, since our country is filled with sporadic architectures left by the British during the colonial era.
The roads in the city are small and shops are closely knitted together. It reminds me of the central city in Johor Bahru where I grew up in. Just that the traffic here is managed by lots of traffic lights linked to each other within a few hundred metres. Once the traffic starts to swell, any approaching cars are diverted to roads leading to them out of the way of their destinations. It hinders the roads from being further clogged up in the city. That is why policemen are rarely found maneuovering traffic in the streets. Besides, it is too cold for one to stand put in the middle of the road.
I could not help but chuckle when I first heard how the bell boy spoke as we reached the hotel. It felt a little funny because he reminded me of a comical character that I used to watch on tele. I know that was not acting polite but that is just the way he has to speak as a sign of courtesy. Honestly, I love the British accent and intonation because it sounds musical to the ears, especially the pompous terms that they use in daily conversations. The people here walk really fast. Firstly it is because they are always on a chase for the bus, train or tube. Secondly it is because of the cold weather. I realised that if you walk really fast in the cold, it warms up the body. My cousin says that Londoners are like in their own bubble when walking alone. They are so focused with what they are about to do or where to go that they could not be bothered with the people around them. However, when someone stops them to ask for directions, they can just snap out of it and give the querer a helpful road instruction.